The Night of No Hope

This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin. As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law. (Luke 23:54-56 NLT)

By now, the sun has set, and the first day of the week has begun. The disciples, the strongest of men, working men, mighty men, representatives of the tribes of Israel, were cowering in a room somewhere, yet the women were in wait, in the open, to take the last care of the body of their Lord.

But it was a night were the disciples of the Master had to dwell on their wasted lives – three years with this blowhard! Three years of ‘miracles’, of feeding people, of eating with sinners. They now were unclean! Three years of this and for what? Now they were in fear of their lives – they were political rebels to Rome and religious rebels to the Sanhedrin. They were fugitives.

Judas has killed himself and Thomas had left. Just ten now.

And the women that had followed Christ were lamenting a dead man, anxious to dress the body as a king.

It was a night of lunacy. No hope.

At length the worst is o’er, and Thou art laid
Deep in Thy darksome bed;
All still and cold beneath yon dreary stone
Thy sacred form is gone;
Around those lips where power and mercy hung,
The dews of deaths have clung;
The dull earth o’er Thee, and Thy foes around,
Thou sleep’st a silent corse, in funeral fetters wound.

Sleep’st Thou indeed? or is Thy spirit fled,
At large among the dead?
Whether in Eden bowers Thy welcome voice
Wake Abraham to rejoice,
Or in some drearier scene Thine eye controls
The thronging band of souls;
That, as Thy blood won earth, Thine agony
Might set the shadowy realm from sin and sorrow free.

Where’er Thou roam’st, one happy soul, we know,
Seen at Thy side in woe,
Waits on Thy triumphs–even as all the blest
With him and Thee shall rest.
Each on his cross; by Thee we hang a while,
Watching Thy patient smile,
Till we have learned to say, “‘Tis justly done,
Only in glory, LORD, Thy sinful servant own.”

Soon wilt Thou take us to Thy tranquil bower
To rest one little hour,
Till Thine elect are numbered, and the grave
Call Thee to come and save:
Then on Thy bosom borne shall we descend
Again with earth to blend,
Earth all refined with bright supernal fires,
Tinctured with holy blood, and winged with pure desires.

Meanwhile with every son and saint of Thine
Along the glorious line,
Sitting by turns beneath Thy sacred feet
We’ll hold communion sweet,
Know them by look and voice, and thank them all
For helping us in thrall,
For words of hope, and bright examples given
To show through moonless skies that there is light in Heaven.

O come that day, when in this restless heart
Earth shall resign her part,
When in the grave with Thee my limbs shall rest,
My soul with Thee be blest!
But stay, presumptuous–CHRIST with Thee abides
In the rock’s dreary sides:
He from this stone will wring Celestial dew
If but this prisoner’s heart he faithful found and true.

When tears are spent, and then art left alone
With ghosts of blessings gone,
Think thou art taken from the cross, and laid
In JESUS’ burial shade;
Take Moses’ rod, the rod of prayer, and call
Out of the rocky wall
The fount of holy blood; and lift on high
Thy grovelling soul that feels so desolate and dry.

Prisoner of Hope thou art–look up and sing
In hope of promised spring.
As in the pit his father’s darling lay
Beside the desert way,
And knew not how, but knew his GOD would save
E’en from that living grave,
So, buried with our LORD, we’ll chose our eyes
To the decaying world, till Angels bid us rise.

John Keble

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